An Eagle Point man was sentenced to more than 4½ years in prison after admitting he fatally struck a pedestrian on Highway 62 in Medford in December while under the influence of a cocktail of narcotics.
Kyle Leon Miller, 25, pleaded guilty to hit-and-run, criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence of intoxicants Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court, admitting he had a combination of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and morphine in his system the night his vehicle struck 54-year-old Michael Dennis Sheridan near the North Medford Fred Meyer store.
Rosalie Matthews, Miller's court-appointed defense lawyer, said that her client enrolled in the Jackson County Jail's drug treatment program shortly after his arrest Dec. 5, and just recently graduated from the program.
"There's no way Mr. Miller's going to forget about this," Matthews said.
Sheridan was fatally struck just after 7 p.m. Dec. 5, while he was cutting across Highway 62 from Chadwick's at the Rogue Regency Inn and on his way back to the Ramada Inn, where Sheridan had a room, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz, who prosecuted the case.
Two cars headed west on Highway 62 abruptly stopped for Sheridan, and Sheridan paused in the median before continuing across, Markiewicz said. Miller, who was heading east at about 50 miles per hour, didn't see Sheridan until it was too late, according to Matthews. He then fled the scene in his vehicle.
In an emotional reading of a letter, Miller said regret for not stopping after hitting Sheridan haunts him to this day. He said he was "in shock."
"I made a very bad choice by not stopping," Miller said as he tearfully read a letter to Sheridan's family during the hearing, adding that he was "in shock."
"I'm just a young kid who made the wrong decisions and I sincerely apologize," Miller concluded before breaking down.
According to previous reports, numerous witnesses attended to Sheridan at the scene and called 911 the night of the crash, but he was pronounced dead by the time Mercy Flights arrived. Medford police found Miller about 20 minutes later in downtown Medford near West Main Street and North Oakdale Avenue.
Miller admitted to police that he'd used marijuana and heroin earlier that day, and toxicology tests revealed methamphetamine, marijuana and morphine in Miller's system, according to the release.
Sheridan was not in a crosswalk when he was hit. Two witnesses said he stepped in front of Miller's car, but other witnesses disputed that.
Circuit Court Judge David Hoppe sentenced Miller to 55 months in the Oregon Department of Corrections, three years of post-prison supervision and permanently revoked his driver's license after Miller pleaded guilty to felony counts of criminally negligent homicide and failing to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person, along with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of intoxicants.
As part of the negotiated plea agreement, Hoppe agreed to recommend Miller for alternative incarceration programs, along with credit for time served, earned time and time off for good behavior.
More serious Measure 11 charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter were dropped as part of the plea agreement, as was an unrelated felony theft charge alleging he committed return fraud in July.
Sheridan's parents didn't attend the hearing, but in a letter Markiewicz read from Sheridan's mother, she said she hopes Miller "makes good use of his time in prison in pursuit of the tools to help him become a more responsible citizen upon his release" and hoped he "will remember what he has done and learn to be a better person because of this tragic event."
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.